An introduction to Shabbat lifts

shabbat image of challah bread and candles

We love the variety of lift requests and the numerous configurations within each lift type we get involved in at Stannah. Whilst the requirement for Shabbat lifts (also known as Sabbath lifts) tends to be few and far between in the UK, this blog post gives an overview.

What is a Shabbat elevator or lift? 

It’s a passenger lift that has a sabbath mode elevator configuration. This means it stops on every floor automatically, and as such, the buttons need not be pressed, enabling the use of the lift without a passenger pressing the buttons.

You'll find buildings with wheelchair-accessible Shabbat-compliant lifts in synagogues and high-rise residential buildings in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in the UK.  Some local authorities now pay special attention to the religion-friendly housing requirements of ultra-Orthodox Haredi communities.

Why do these elevators stop on every floor on the Sabbath?

Religiously observant Jews may not use electrical devices on the Sabbath as part of Torah prohibition, and included in this is the use of a lift. The lift is either prevented from being used by a clock function, or it can be made to start at a designated floor and move in a cycle to each floor to allow passengers to get off at their chosen floor without touching the electronics involved in a lift. 

How does a Shabbat elevator work?

Simply put, when Sabbath mode is set on a Shabbos elevator, the lift can be used without operating it or opening the door, or it can be essentially “turned off”, preventing use.

In more detail, while the Shabbat-compliant lift operates in this mode, the landing and car buttons, voice announcements, and displays can be disabled, except for the alarm buttons. Slow closing is required to meet EN 81-20 requirements. 

To comply with halachic requirements, Stannah can install a passenger lift with a clock and key switch in the car (optional at the landing) that allows the lift to operate in constant “Sabbath control mode” from sunset on Friday until sunset on Saturday. Shabbat lifts do all the work without manual operation until the clock and key switch signals are deactivated.  

An audible signal indicates the start of this function, and “Shabbat mode” light indicators are activated at the landing and in the lift car. The car is sent to the floor set as “Shabbat mode starting floor”, and the lift is parked on the floor without allowing any movement during a certain time.  

If desired, the building owner can set the Shabbat-friendly elevator to operate in automatic mode, stopping on every “Shabbath-enabled floor” to allow entry and exit for as long as the key switch and clock are active. Stannah Shabbat lifts can be set to work automatically in 3 ways: 

  • By travelling from the starting floor to the top floor and then going down, stopping at every floor to finish at the starting floor
  • Travelling from the starting floor to the top floor, stopping at every floor. When the highest floor is reached, the lift will return to the starting floor to end there. 
  • By travelling from the main floor to the top floor, stopping at every floor, then travelling down to the starting floor, also stopping at every floor, when the cycle ends. 

How do you recognise a Shabbos lift? 

  • Signage: a lift can be marked with a sign configured for Shabbat observance.
  • Travel patterns: there are several ways the operation can work (going up and down); stopping at every floor, stopping at alternate floors, or rising to the top floor and stopping while going down or at specific pre-set floors.
  • Delayed open/close doors: typically configured with an extended door opening time to enable plenty of time for safe exit and entry without the risk of the doors automatically closing. Additionally, some sound a warning buzzer before the doors close.
  • Buttons: if the lift is only intended for use on the Sabbath, then there may not be floor buttons, or the floor button exists but does not function.
  • Timer: a timer to schedule the automatic operation of Shabbos mode.
  • Landing signals: turning off unnecessary signal lights and taking care of floor indicator lights.

What types of lifts can be configured in Shabbos mode?

Passenger lifts can be adapted for Shabbat (automatic mode). Traditional platform lifts are unsuitable because of their constant pressure operation and door configurations.

The type of configuration required will always vary by building and operation required, so here at Stannah, we always work with the customer to establish the exact requirements for their Shabbat-compliant lift.

Can an existing lift be configured to a Shabbat control?

There are no additional servicing requirements for a lift configured in Shabbath mode, and an existing lift could be changed to Shabbat control, though this would involve electrical control panel modifications and would, therefore, involve some cost.

How can Stannah help?

At Stannah, we love the variety of lift requests we get involved in and the configurations that can be achieved, including Shabbat lifts. All our lifts comply with the latest industry standards and can accommodate particular requirements. 

With over 50,000 installations across the UK and nearly 100,000 units in our service portfolio, we offer a wide range of lift solutions and services to move people and goods. Take a look at our product range or simply get in touch.

Contact Us

Continue reading

Next Article Blog Home